tv The Presidency U.S. Soviet Union Relations Post- World War II CSPAN January 21, 2018 8:00pm-8:56pm EST
two-day conference looking at the complicated history between u.s. and russian leaders over the last century. the discussions included assessments of roosevelt, bush, andixon, clinton, as well as their russian the focus of this program is the post-world war ii relationship. it is just under an hour. first, the board of trustees, distant was professor at the university of connecticut where he teaches u.s. foreign relations. after him will be professor of ukrainian history and the director of the ukrainian research institute at harvard university. we will start with frank.
frank: first of all, i want to join others in thinking mel and will. it is an honor to be in this room with most -- with so many people whose work i respect so much. what i have done is basically extrapolate from the op-ed i wrote a light of some comments the people made yesterday, other op-ed, particularly mel's question about irrationality. i also have the perspective of george kennan. it's been easy for americans to feel irritated, angry, exasperated, resentful or disgusted with the russian government to whether that
country is being run by lennon, stalin, khrushchev, or putin. the quashing of th pole, and the most recent aggressions against georgia and ukraine. the berlin in cuban crisis of half a century ago and the egregious interference in our election last year. it is therefore understandable, but also consequential. the strong emotions have often played an important role in how u.s. leaders and the american public have conceptualized our steps of a rational and objective natural -- national interest vis-a-vis russia.
it is integral to all thinking. emotions come into play strongly when we appraise something as important. this does not mean that emotions determine policy. rather that emotion is used respective, unavoidably, to influence ideas. roosevelt in effect offered stalin a strategic deal. he was willing to accept soviet .omination in eastern europe in addition to this political possessedfdr, who enormous self-confidence, acted on his hunch that stalin
suffered an inferiority complex. roosevelt tried to play up to pride and fear of humiliation. quite different was harry truman. only days after he became ,resident a barbarian invasion of europe europe that set off alarm bells for truman, who like reading history, and had read a lot about genghis khan hearin. truman already regarded the russians semi-asiatic. truman, who was anxious to show he was man enough to be president replied he was not
afraid of the russians, nor of anyone else. such emotional reactions and associations alone did not tough.truman to talk these kinds of reactions probably influenced the president's behavior in the short and long run. asman viewed the russians inferior to americans because, racially, they were a mix of tartars, models and slots, as he put it. tartars, mongols, and sloth s, as he put it. september 1945, a deeply conservative secretary of war was appalled and frightened by i thestructions rocked
bombs dropped in japan pm stinson were that an atomic arms race would lead to an atomic war ending human civilization. he urged truman to reach out directly, bilaterally, and secretly to the kremlin to propose a step-by-step sharing of atomic information and to halt the further atomic development by both the united states and russia. the majority of germans cabinet, including the acting secretary of state, approved simpson's proposal. it, talked itd over with his poker buddies, and decided no. he believed that the russians, because of their racial and cultural deficiencies, simply did not possess what he called the yankee know-how, essential
to developing an atomic bomb. presidentr asked the wouldhe russians develop the audubon -- the atom bomb? truman said never. manifestoesr's crackled with the motion, even as they claimed the authority of cool reason. this isn't the emotional impact of the most famous passage, the most quoted. he wrote that threatening america was a political force -- not people with whom one could negotiate ordeal -- but a
political force fanatic to the belief that, with the u.s., there could be no motors for mindy that is desirable. our traditional way of life be destroyed. the international authority of if thete be broken soviet powers to be secured. he exaggerated russia's limited challenge into a frightening, existential threat. protest years, he would that his calls for containment were misinterpreted by people who pushed for a militarized response to containment. the emotional force with which he depicted the soviet threat made it seem only prudent to build up the u.s. military. in terms of lessons, his
frustrations with the outcome of his call for a containment illustrates one of the problems with excessive emotion. sparking fear can easily get out of control. think about his connection with following the advice of senator arthur vandenberg when he suggested that treatment trumanaid front -- that wanted to get aid from congress. truman had to scare hell out of the american people. scaring led to the mccarthyite hysteria. in a more general way, hyper emotional responses can cloud our vision of national interest and make a bet jim -- make objective scenes see more crucial than they are. emotional thinking can lead us
to the mutability of development. thus thinking can lead to hasty decisions. canssions -- emotions reinforce the unrealistic premises of american exceptionalism. as the number of the op-ed's written by our participants pointed out, the cuban missile crisis ended without a nuclear holocaust in large part because kennedy was able to restrain the within the xcom and within himself. a nation that feels humiliated, 1871,r in france in germany after 1919, or rush by the late 1990's, there comes a force for destabilizing the detested status quo. the aftermath of world war ii, acheson dulles and most of the u.s. leaders understood the importance of giving west germany a stake in the postwar
system in terms of economic integration and then to nato. were exchangel with the west. those who have done research in american relations in post-world war ii period, many internal u.s. memos from the 1950's to the 1960's filled with expressions of concern last the german government be feel -- by its division. of the contribute to our program have suggested, a principal factor in motivating
russian feelings of humiliation and resentment as washington tries to block moscow diversions of influence. to offer some historical perspective on the expanding reach of american aspirations in policy, i want to briefly review what george kennan wrote about 1948 and about nato expansion in the 1990's. of1948, canon, director policy staff, submitted policy memo desk staff memo 48. what should be the american objectives in the event of a total military victory over the soviet union? with regard to post world war arguedndaries, canon that the baltic states should be allowed to regain their independence. he also acknowledged the desire of independence in ukraine and
the push by ukrainians living in the united states. nevertheless, he concluded that there is no clear dividing line between russia and the ukraine. setting up an independent ukraine would be as artificial and destructive as an attempt to separate the american corn belt, including the great lake industrial area, from the economy of the united states. we cannothe went on, be indifferent to the feelings of the russians. has --g-term u.s. policy must be based on their cooperation.d as solution which attempts to separate the ukraine entirely from the rest of russia is bound to incur russia resentment and opposition and can be maintained only by force. federation ined a this post world war iii.
finally, i want to offer a respective on nato expansion based on a cordial exchange of letters between george kennedy and strobe talbott. 1997, he wrote, in planning to extend nato's borders to match up to those of russia, we are making the greatest stake of western policy in the entire post-cold war era. he predicted that it would inflame the existing nationalistic, anti-western camilla -- militaristic tendencies. restore the atmosphere of the east-west relations and impel russian foreign policy directions decidedly not to our liking. such expansion would stimulate rather than reduce the role of
nuclear weaponry as a factor in relations with moscow. stressed the benefits in joining nato. the russians would have to look at nato not as a military enemy, but a fact of life on their border. for peace, hep predicted, with time, the russians would accept the new reality. two brief lessons. on force the, in the last two decades, russian resentment and feeling of humiliation and needing to change the situation near abroad,to the that remains very strong. that is one of the reasons for popularity.
the second lesson, should nato admit ukraine and georgia, that would inflame relations for a very long time. and finally, i'd like to conclude with a question that i don't see posed very much but concerns me as an historian as citizen. does the expansion of nato really serve the interests of the united states and the interests of the nato alliance? during the cold war, there was endless discussion about the credibility of nato and the u.s. deterrent. with the united states really risk new york in a nuclear right -- nuclear crisis in order to save hamburg? difficulty of mounting a realistic, congressional defense along the german-german border. to it seems relative to ask what extent has the expansion of nato undermined the credibility of article 5?
even forgetting for a minute president trump's views about alliances and dark it meant till alliances, would the united states certifies new york to avenge and attack baltic nations? and how deep can we mount a conventional defense of the when we found it difficult to mount a defense of west germany? thank you. [applause] >> thank you for inviting me. like everyone else, i am thankful to be here. assume that most of you read put aer, so i will try to
flushed out argument in a to think about trends. sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for. i was trained as a modernist. thinking from a laundry perspective. it looks like a good place to start, talking about u.s.-russia , the creation of the united states, where you have both russia and the united states being on the periphery of the europe-centered world. the first ideological trend they experienced together was allotment. but they experienced it very different.
it is also a different relationship to stalin's umpire. rush moves into eastern and central europe and builds a good part of its european empire. there are people who go from one place to another but the reason why they and the u.s. is the expansion of the russian borders and the russian empire. sense, ideological reagan and predate wilson. the difference in the 18th and the 19th and 20th
the 1940's, the capitalist country that is most emulated and more hostile to the soviet union. then comes the cold war and the situation changes. where would we put the start of the war? the discussion is there. but it is interesting that, at the center of the cold war from its start, it's very beginning is what at that point was known as eastern europe. and it is eastern europe where the fact go, the soviet fear of domination, dominance, for whatever it is, is recognized.
and also in central europe, with the cold war and's, where it goes to the centrality of eastern europe or a central .urope now is the redefinition of what eastern europe is. this emergence of -- we see a lot of history repeating itself. let me elaborate on that in terms of repeating, history repeating itself, and then point to differences that we have today. the first is between stalin and poutin. anothert see soviet/russian leader that would accumulate as much influence and quite independent from institutions and bodies like politburo or whatever. it is someone who can really make decisions on his own with
very little consultations with the people around him. it looks like the annexation of crimea is one of those cases. putin is also a very strong negotiator. even writing,for, if he had a possibility to select negotiators, stalin would be on his team. stalin was doing his homework. stalin was in control of details. so an externally strong .egotiator putin in many ways is the closest we can get in soviet to appear in all
of those accounts. then he redefined eastern europe is identified as another area full of contention and a source of worsening relations between the two countries. the parallel is interesting in 1945, stalin was returning to eastern europe. leninone were the days of where he was trying to organize the world by this new revolutionary principle. he goes back to the old imperial visions and fears of influence and becomes an important influence in his diplomatic toolbox. so russia is really in eastern europe for the first time in 1914-1915, trying to reestablish itself. is again a return.
that was not exactly no man's land but not under the russian control for a period of time, you see russia returning there. and the united states is also relative -- again, all parallels have their limits -- by a relative newcomer in the region. inwas certainly a newcomer 1945-1946. and when we look at the recent changes in the in american 2013 had the united states involved in eastern europe as well. there are also significant differences between the eastern europe of today and
soviet-american relations back in the cold war. first of all, the borders of eastern europe are different. it is also not under occupation. under moscow's controller occupation, which is very different from what we see -- atl to or pause the yalta or posda. is it was not economically in great shape in 1945. in this economically, it is in a weaker position than the soviet union at the start of the cold war.
apart from the economic weakness, there is one more component that wasn't there in 1945. this is russian economic we --ipation participation. there was a flight of capital and so on and so forth. the interconnection between the two economies and the economy where the united states is a major player. russia is integrated to the degree that the soviet union in -- again, another layer of a different situation that suggests or invites thinking about different approaches and different solutions to today's russian-american relations and thisons, despite of all
historical perils i suggested earlier. what that truly means in terms of practical advice -- there's the whole concept of this sphere of influence. is short for the world divided and influence. i don't think it made the slightest impact on the broad context. word, look for a short this would be a tolstoy conference on the balkans. yalta, heoes that postpones the discussion in the debate and says we will have to renegotiate poland from scratch. but serious -- spheres of allowing russia in
the sphere of influence goes american institutions and world order in general. when we think about history, it is not a healthy solution overall. -- there is a good argument to be made. the territory was occupied by the soviet union. there is no other way around. countries still have their own agency. ukraine?ened to no one expected them. that is another example that
-- that they have their voice. going back to the old policies of containment of this -- at this point don't make much sense. also, for all the reasons i mentioned, russia inclusion and involvement in the outside world. but i don't think, going back to personalities and comparing and whoever in the future will be in the white house, i don't think a person with diplomacy is really the way forward. sees basically -- i don't the possibility of outsmarting are fortunate in that sense. they belong to different categories. again, there is
a lot about cold war, about containment area i would maybe .alk more about cold my list suggestion would be putin is too much routed to the politics -- policies he selects. negotiations and renegotiations will have to wait until the new leadership, not only in the white house, but the new leadership arrives in the kremlin as well. be's hope that it will [indiscernible] to be aer putin conservative state nationalist as opposed to a radical
nationalist. the radical nationalism is on the rise as well. that is something to keep in mind when we think about the future. thank you very much for your attention. [applause] mel: i will withhold my questions and open it up to the audience. any questions or comments. -- comments? >> fascinating panel. very topical. this parallel thing is quite striking between stalin and putin. frank,stion to frank, your books, your writings do show excellently how important our emotions in international relations. withfically when we deal
the soviet-american relations. yesterday, i had to answer a question about irrationality. i do think there is some excessive irrationality and russian-american and soviet-american relations. that makes me ask probing questions. what is behind this emotionality? is it something structural, deeply embedded in soviet-american relations? we all know, during wartime, when you choose an adversary, hypes andgain always exaggerates your adversary's negative intentions, hostile intentions. that is very normal. however, some political scientists, including bill woolford, believe that the nature of american leadership in
world precluded any options such as a concert of powers the question to frank is -- do you think what roosevelt considered briefly as the four policeman approach to the world ?ould have worked that was a concept of more and more familiar to the russians because they did operate in a concert of powers before. it was lenin that took russia out of that concert, quite brutally. was this option ever possible? and first sergei, thank you for raising this question about fear -- sphere of influence.
more eastern europe than before, right? we know from the literature, particularly revisionist literature, even after 1945, in pdf 1945-1947, there was a lot of uncertainty -- in 1945-1947, there was a lot of uncertainty in eastern europe. now we see a new sphere of influence emerging or rather the attempt of russia to claim a new sphere of influence in its border country, not imposing ideology, not imposing any form reminiscence to soviet times, allowing any other business to bridge a spate, and the result operate,-- business to
and the result is hostility. is it something we still do not fully understand that operate between the west and russia in the lands that constitute the buffer zone between them? very simpleis a question, so i will try to answer as simply as i can. i see two questions i can address. special is there this emotional intensity to russian-american relations? and two, could the four policeman approach have worked? at the american representatives to moscow, people like william bullitt, jeb -- george
can himself -- george cannon himself. they wanted to believe they could make a difference, that they could establish a special relationship with stalin, that they could really make a difference. they came away with this point. was thathe intensity of a disappointed lover. they put themselves out and they felt rejected. so there is this sense of expectation and then disappointment. -- as contributed cork's [indiscernible] frank -- >> [indiscernible] frank: some of these ordinary airmen, army air force who were commentedin ukraine, conten
that the base had a special importance, beyond even the military utility of the bases, that this was somehow an important venture. the second question, could the four policeman approach of work? i always -- approach have worked? i always try to go back to a 1941,l moment in december when you could hear the booming of the german guns from the kremlin and stalin sits down with eden and lays out his postwar worries. laid out abasically series of expectations, which included the british maintaining bases in western europe as the soviets would have basis in eastern europe. he recognized the limited
theories of expectations, which he kept for the remainder of the roosevelte immediate -- immediate dvd. roosevelt came to accept stalin's requirements and just wanted the soviets to be good a gloss over, put a fig leaf over it so that roosevelt could sell this to the american people. roosevelt was worried the seeingn people, on cynical feelings would want to go back to isolation. particularly in regard to eastern europe, when did the united states acquire vital interest in eastern europe? that was a new development in basically the post roosevelt era. barring that, there could have been a sharing of power among the great powers continuing into -- well into the postwar.
that kind of collaboration would have required regular meetings by the leaders themselves. sergey: i fully agree with this assessment. pacific, there looks like there is fantastic cooperation, including discussion with korea. the tension is in eastern europe. the u.s. is a new player there. with regard to eastern europe and stalin's plans and his yard free -- and history on the fray. ofere is a semblance multiparty systems that were not allowed. eventually, they arrived to the
idea that the only way is to say this is ours and this is yours. and the full gamut of things from party control to the end of the free elections. with thatt start idea, that they believed in the power of come in's ideas. with communist movement was on the rise. they couldn't compete with the marshall plan. ideologically, they were more effective, but they couldn't compete economically. you make out of the percentage deal that churchill proposed, again, that answer was never found what that would mean , 30% yours and 30% mine.
drawing a parallel with today and looking at what is happening today, first of all, let me talk about the russian sphere of influence, like it doesn't exist /it does exist. the margins, the big one is that -- more cautiousomes given the developments in ukraine. is aal asia -- maybe this percentage agreement where we can talk on the other side whether i don't know if it is china or the united states. it is time for ukraine to get out of that sphere that creates --
the competition's economic and competition is ideological. russia said to me, given its economic status, it is very insecure. in terms of ideological competition, if you don't talk about [indiscernible] and what that entails in terms orthe strengthening maintaining the sphere of influence. the current russian regime is much more comfortable with rulers like lukashenko, instead of developing new developments in the ukraine. we are in a situation where the sphere of influence is there or thus -- or this year control is
still there. most of the country was comfortable with how that sphere is structured and administered. gives this leverage the u.s.. >> thank you. in all the discussions so far, we have mentioned eastern europe 20 times in the word germany has not been outer. uttered.t been this take that there was acceptlt hoped that to
areas of soviet domination in eastern europe. the hard problem is that the one area where it was really difficult to draw a line, the area in which at least for a couple of years assumed they needed joint administration, was the heartland of europe and the key to its economic future, which is germany. done pretty close work on this story and i don't want to rehash that. and there is a counterargument to the argument i made on this. point is, in a way, tacitis an unstated argument underneath all of this that said, g, if we had all understood and accepted russian sphere of influence in eastern europe, we could have avoided
contact. was thethink that it precipitating source of the flash. i think it had to do with how to forow to administer germany reasons that are pretty hard to impact. frank: i agree. germany is key. one of the ways is that the for both stalin and roosevelt's wishes to collaborate in the postwar world. both of them thought that there was the danger of yet another german attempt -- further german aggression. that really motivated stalin to want an alliance with the united states. what both roosevelt and stalin thought was that germany should be divided. exactly where. that is a matter of -- that is a
tactical -- a technical matter. as talkingent so far about castrating the germans. stalin, shortly after the german invasion. say, a striking difference between roosevelt and .ruman stalin once upon stem in berlin and marveled that there was still so much underground infrastructure that the germans had operating factories, despite the credible allied bombing during the war, in the last stages of war, and the russian invasion of berlin. stalin took way from that experience that these germans
are really incredible and they can come back again. truman and his entourage went to berlin. they were struck by pity and sympathy for the germans. they cite concentration of women and children. the germans come as chairman advisors put it, our ethnic kinsmen. sympathy forthis the germans that were not present on the part of the russians. you can see the beginning of division where the americans are more interested in rebuilding , the russians are worried about a renewed german threat. became themany potential in sherman for renewed aggression.
i. h fascinating discussion. this question of what is the ofsal role and power personality and individual level analysis, such as a motion versus the role of structure, the role of power politics? i wanted the panelists to address a divide going on in my field, international relations, on the role of structural power politics. there are really three ways of approaching this. one is sort of what we call an offense of realist perspective , whenever there is a power vacuum, you fill it. we have to do so because the structure makes you fearful of the future. so you grab power now as a hedge against anything that is bad.
are going into eastern europe but also the u.s. going into eastern europe with the fall of the soviet union. the second perspective is more along the line of frank's, often called the defense of realism, which is the idea that, well, you have to be moderate and cautious in power politics because you might scare the other or revoke their emotions and make them upset or humiliated or angry at you. so the idea is cautioned. don't go into power vacuums because you might create a security dilemma spiral. then there is a third perspective which is that, well, yes, power perspectives are right, but you have to worry about future power if you are in decline or if there is a problem of seeing the rise of, say, stalin in 1945. truman is forced by the , toation, just as fdr was surround the other with your power to make sure they can't grow to contain their growth.
that might start a spiral, yes, a security dilemma spiral, but it is tragically inevitable. you can't do much about it. i just wonder how this jobs with the two perspectives that you presented, especially with the role of emotion in the second one, which is that you can spark -- theer. emotions other's emotions. frank: you really have to get down -- as a historian, i like getting down to specific cases rather than general rules or models. what is important here is two things. one is the individual leaders and the group of leaders, their emotional outlooks in the degree of security they have within themselves and in their judgment. and then there's the specific circumstances.
ruless not hard and fast of the three models, the three ones you applied, depending on the geostrategic differences in each place and what the economic factors are and cultural factors that are feeding into your decisions. aton't want to it all hint emotional determinism. emotion is an internal aspect of thinking which helps appraise geostrategic and other kinds of factors. what linksi think the early cold war situation in today's situation aretwo -- are two of the approaches you mentioned. in terms of the power vacuum, we are living in -- we lived in the 20th century and continue to -- that theprocess
emergence of the smallest states -- a power vacuum created back then, in eastern europe as well. in terms of containing the power, yes, this is the story of .he early cold war i think that is a good way to bring these two together. mel: please join me in thanking frank and sergey. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history.
>> all weekend, american history tv is featuring newport, rhode island. this coastal town of about 25,000 was founded in 1639 by english settlers and named after newport, england. learn more about newport here on american history tv. >> we are so fortunate to have a wealth of information about the battle of rhode island, about the battle for rhode island, and the revolutionary period in general. it has been a number of different ways, from the most humble, which is a small piece of fabric, to the most elaborate, which is an extraordinary sword. they all tell a story if you're able to read them. we can start with this one, which is